What is Spam?

Spam is the electronic version of Junk mail. It is unsolicited, and often unwanted bulk email messages. Spam does not usually contain viruses, but is usually a valid email sent from a legitimate source.

The amount of spam you receive depends on your Spamability quotient (SQ)

  • If you have your email address on any web sites your SQ goes up as these are culled by spammers
  • If you participate in discussions groups or list servers your SQ goes up for the same reason
  • If you have given out your email address to any surveys or to access a web site or register for or purchase something your SQ goes up
  • If you ever respond to SPAM or to the 'reply to be removed from spam list' request your SQ goes way up
  • If you follow links in a Spam message your SQ will go up as this just confirms your email address

A normal range of spam is 0-30 per week depending on your SQ.


Steps to Reduce the Amount of Spam you Receive

  • Don't give out your email address automatically (this includes paper comment cards or questionnaires
  • Check web sites privacy policies before submitting your email address online. Find out how your address is going to be used and protected
  • Be aware of options that are selected by default when installing software or completing online forms
  • Use Email filters to block addresses, or tag suspect email
  • Don't follow the links in spam messages
  • Disable the automatic downloading of graphics in HTML email. Graphics in spam are often linked to track who opens the message (which confirms the address as active)
  • Consider using an additional email address to be used for online shopping and completing forms. Any spam generated by these activities would then go to this secondary address, and not to your regular mailbox. There are a number of free email services available (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Eudora...xxxxlink).

Anti-Spam Response at Vancouver Island University:

How does PureMessage work?

PureMessage is a mail-filtering program that runs on the email server. All ingoing and outgoing email messages passes through PureMessage. The PureMessage filter looks for certain message characteristics and performs actions on the message when these characteristics are found.


How does PureMessage identify Spam?

PureMessage contains several hundred spam tests that analyze individual characteristics of each message. Each of these tests has a numerical weight. When a message is analyzed by PureMessage, the weights from all the spam tests that matched the message are added up and converted to a spam score that expresses the message's "spam probability".

By default, PureMessage only checks for spam in messages that originate from outside the network, not in messages that originate within the local domain. If a message is found to have a spam probability of 50% or more, the message is placed in Quarantine. Messages that have a spam probability of 20% - 49% have a label inserted into the Subject Line (including the term PMX Spam) to warn you. Messages that are rated below 20% are passed directly through.

How do I get help with this service?



Who can use this service?


Where can I find out more information about this service?

For for more complete information on how to release messages, set up Approved Senders, configure Outlook rules, and manage your quarantined items, please see the following web page:

When is this service available?

Support for this service is available: M-F 8:00 - 4:30

Service is available: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week except during scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.

Our technology advisory page provides up-to-date information about the operations of Vancouver Island University's Information Technology systems and services. 

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